How many times have you gotten e-mails or text messages that refer to something so vaguely, you have no idea what the writer is trying to express? Or worse yet, the writer expresses a result, with no rationale for what caused it.
Lesson LearnedWhen I first started managing projects, I had a project team member (let's call him Harvey) who used to come into my office, and say things like:
"The client is so pissed, she's going to go directly to the president."
"The entire process has blown up!"
"I don't think this one is even salvageable."Of course, it required me to ask a follow-up question to find out what was causing these tremendously awful scenarios. And when I did, I'd get another oblique description of how awful "it" was. Often, it took three or more questions, before I would find out what the problem was.
And when I did, it was usually something VERY minor. Suffice it to say, I hated Harvey.
Then, a co-worker/friend, Peter, taught me something very important. Ass-hats like Harvey were relishing the attention that their fire-alarms would set off. And he demonstrated how he responded to people like.
He told me to pretend to be Harvey and come into his office with a typical Harvey scenario. So I did. I walked into his office (with his back to me while he typed something) and I blurted out, "The entire contract is at risk if we don't pacify the main client immediately." Peter continued to type without responding in any way. I continued..."She's so pissed, she's going to the president!". Peter continued to type without reply. I persisted, "Peter, didn't you hear me, the client is going ballistic!" Peter went on typing.
Peter then explained, that eventually Harvey would tell you what really happened, especially when he got no reaction to his yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Peter said, I shouldn't respond until there was something to respond to.
He was right...I tried it the very next time and it worked like a charm! He only tried doing it one more time before stopping the behavior altogether.